In June of this year, Global-Pak’s team visited overseas suppliers of FIBC'S (Bulk Bags), container liners, and small bags. For many of the vendors we met with, we were the first or one of the first visitors to their facilities since the start of Covid. We spent 3 weeks meeting with various manufacturers around southern Asia, which is a long time to be away. When reflecting on the planning and time it takes to do these visits, I felt it was essential to stress the importance of meeting and seeing suppliers firsthand.
We met with valued partners that have continued to grow and develop with us, and some of these have evolved into the best facilities in the world. We also visited new manufacturers, some that have big potential and could play a key role in our supply chain management in the future, and others that did not hold up to what was advertised when seen in person. Photos and videos taken at the right angles can hide a lot and taking the time to visit can unearth the truth. For example, we saw that the manufacturing processes and plant maintenance were not the best at some places, and some facilities had quality logs and records that were laxed (if not fictional.) At Food Grade and High-End Clean Bag manufacturers, these are the things that can cause serious issues to customers and end users. At Global-Pak, we do vendor inspections in person, and we only work with trusted manufacturers who maintain the safety requirements beyond the documentation. At minimum, it’s important to send an auditor in to examine the facilities and get someone in the building who can evaluate suppliers properly.
When you work with companies who don’t do the inspections, you can run into risky practices. We visited plants that advertise and promote their BRC/FSC 2200 certificates on their websites and in promotional emails but are not Food Grade by Global-Pak’s definition, or the SQF Certification standards we adhere to. We realize that asking for absolute perfection is difficult, and even the best manufacturing plants can have issues, but any BRC/FSC 2200 facility should not have lack of housekeeping, open gaps to the outside, Food Grade and Non-Food Grade areas opened to each other, pests in the facility, entrances with poor hygienic practices, or areas with doors propped open to the outside that should be closed. These are major concerns to see, especially when the visit you are on has been announced and planned well in advance. that is supposed to be closed to the outside are major concerns.
I believe the saying is "Caveat Emptor" or buyer beware. At the end of the day, the buyer takes the risk, and this is very important to keep in mind when buying FIBCS – especially High End or Food Grade bags. They are much more technically difficult to make than most people understand and adhering to the clean room requirements takes a lot of time and observance. If you are buying clean bags, it is so important to know what you are buying and where it is coming from.
If you have questions about site visits and the manufacturing standards, ask your current supplier about their vendor audits. At Global-Pak, we will be transparent with our customers and share our findings with you. Contact us for any questions, pictures, or to learn more about our vendor visits.